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Launch of school health clinics

Hon Annette King

Launch of school health clinics

Thank you for inviting me to take part in the launch of these school-based health clinics, and especially to St Bernard's College for hosting the event. It's exciting to be celebrating such a positive step in terms of the physical and mental well-being of young people.

Of course initiatives like this don't happen overnight. They are always the result of much planning and hard work from a wide range of people, and so I want to spend a few minutes acknowledging those involved.

I applaud the Hutt Valley District Health Board for showing such a commitment to the health and well-being of young people in their area and, in particular, the efforts of Helene Carbonatto from the Planning and Funding Department. Helene, I am told your determination and belief in the project has been crucial, so I'm sure today is a very proud moment for you.

Without the support of the four high schools represented here today - St Bernard's College, Naenae College, Wainuiomata High School and Taita College - the Hutt Valley DHB's initiative would never have got off the ground. Thanks for the vision and foresight you have shown in agreeing to have these school clinics on site.

I would also like to highlight the efforts of Lorraine Coulston, manager of Hutt Valley Youth Health Service, who has done a lot of the leg-work to get these clinics up and running.

I understand the wider school communities have also done a wonderful job of supporting and guiding this project, and I want to make special mention of those who generously gave up their free time to help when the clinics were being set up.

Improving access to health care for everyone is something I feel very passionately about as Health Minister, and a school-based service is an effective way of doing this for students.

I hope it goes without saying that the health of young people is very important to this Government. That's why we have introduced more affordable, lower-cost health care for all under-18s who belong to Primary Health Organisations, and that is why I support school-based health clinics so strongly.

Young people tend to be low users of existing health services, for a variety of reasons, but we still need to work together to try to provide services that cater to your particular needs so you can enjoy the challenges and adventures that are part of being young without negative health consequences.

Having health care ready and available in the school grounds makes it so much easier to get help and advice when you need it.

Being able to talk to people you trust is absolutely crucial, and so is knowing that they will respect your confidences. With that in mind, I was pleased to learn that your schools and the DHB have taken particular care to select staff for these clinics who understand your needs and enjoy working with young people.

It's a great feeling when you "click" with someone you're confiding in and discover they are on the same wavelength as you!

These school clinics are great news for families too. I know parents sometimes find it hard to talk to young people about their health, but parents can now be reassured that in the Hutt Valley there is somewhere young people can go where they are guaranteed to get expert care and good advice.

The services provided at these clinics will be backed up by efforts to create a healthy school environment and by the inclusion of health-related themes in the school curriculum.

So not only will you be able to seek advice on your health concerns, but you will also be learning about making healthy choices.

This Government is aware of the need for all agencies to work together to address the issues facing youth in New Zealand. These school-based health services are an excellent example of a combined approach from Health and Education, and we are very supportive of these kind of partnerships.

Everyone benefits from these kinds of collaborations. Healthy students learn better, and the better educated you are, the healthier you are likely to be. That's good for you, and it is good for the country as a whole.

One of the best things about these health clinics is that you don't have to wait to get sick to use the service. Looking after yourself and keeping well is a much better option than getting sick and needing treatment. This service is there for you to use at any time.

As I said earlier, I am delighted to be part of this launch. Bringing this sort of initiative to fruition requires dedication and enthusiasm, and I'm sure the spirit in which these clinics were established will underlie their success. Congratulations to you all.


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